Long leafed Yellowwood

60113+Of the various specie of podocarpus, and as the name implies, the long leafed yellowwood, Podocarpus henkelii, has the longest leaves. They can get about six inches long, and hang elegantly from upwardly curving branches. This glossy evergreen foliage can be quite dense. It is dark green in full sun, and can be a slightly bluish in partial shade, particularly as new growth develops.

Mature trees have the potentially to get a bit taller than second story eaves, and nearly as broad, but are typically kept shorter. Most grow as big fluffy shrubbery or as informal hedges. Long leafed yellowwood can be pruned (but not shorn) into a handsome formal hedge, or even espaliered against a fence. It prefers somewhat regular watering and well drained soil. It might be unhappy in dense soil. Fertilizer can improve color and density if foliage gets distressed.

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Sasanqua Camellia

81219Some might say it blooms very late. Others might say it blooms very early. Regardless, sasanqua camellia, Camellia sasanqua, blooms in autumn or early winter when not much else is blooming. The abundant two inch wide flowers can be pale pink, rich pink, white or red, all with prominent yellow stamens. Some are fluffy with many petals. Others have only a few. Alas, fragrance is rare.

Each cultivar of sasanqua camellia has a distinct personality. Some are strictly upright, and can eventually get somewhat higher than downstairs eaves. Others are too limber to stand upright on their own; so they grow as low mounds, or espaliered onto trellises. With proper pruning that does not compromise bloom too much, some can be pruned as hedges, or as foundations plantings.

Sasanqua camellia has been in cultivation for many centuries. Prior to breeding for bloom in the past few centuries, it was grown for tea and tea seed oil, which is extracted from the seeds. This oil is used for culinary purposes and cosmetics. The finely serrate elliptical ‘tea’ leaves are about one to two and a half inches long. The glossy evergreen foliage is appealing throughout the year.

Lavender Starflower

71101It is really an evergreen shrub with limber stems; but lavender starflower, Grewia caffra, can work almost like a rambling vine. It does not actually climb or grip anything. Like the canes of a climbing rose, it can be tied onto a trellis or fence as an espalier. As a free standing shrub, the arching stems should be pruned selectively. Shearing deprives them of their natural form, and inhibits bloom.

Espaliered plants can reach the eaves. Free standing shrubs have the potential to get as high and wide, but take more time. Alternatively, lavender starflower can be trained as a small patio tree. The leaves look like elm leaves, with the same sandy texture. The lavender star-shaped flowers are as wide as a quarter. They are not abundant, but they bloom as long as the weather is warm. Lavender starflower does as well with full sun as it does in partial shade.